Friday, September 26, 2014

10 ways Mpowerment Projects can address the HIV Continuum of Care

When people with HIV are fully engaged in care they can live as long as people without HIV and they are much less likely to transmit HIV to others. Community level interventions such as the Mpowerment Project (MP) can play an important role in helping young, HIV-positive gay and bisexual men:
  • know their HIV status
  • navigate and link to care
  • stay in care over time
  • adhere to antiretroviral therapy in order to achieve a low level of HIV in their bodies
What is the Mpowerment Project?  Download Module 1: Overview here.

We are actively researching ways to adapt the MP to help young, HIV-positive gay and bisexual men  fully engage in care. This includes finding new ways for HIV+ and HIV- men to come together and support each other. We want HIV positive members to be linked to care and find a supportive and welcoming home in MP. Stay tuned. We will soon be sharing our ideas through our website.


RELATED:  What is the Mpowerment Project? Download Module 1: Mpowerment Overview.

Joey and Grant. Denver Pique | Mpowerment CO

10 ways Mpowerment Projects can address 
the Continuum of Care

#StigmaSideEye via Q Austin | Mpowerment Texas
1) HIV stigma is a barrier to engagement in HIV care because it causes people to avoid knowing their HIV status, can isolate people with HIV from the social support they need to get or stay in care, and creates a culture of secrecy that interferes with truthful communication about HIV. MP can address HIV stigma within the young gay/bisexual men’s communities. Projects can place messages through social media and posters around their space that address HIV stigma. They can host public forums, and actively work to create safe spaces where anyone regardless of status can participate in project activities. 

2) MP can help create social and community norms that support young gay/bisexual men to know their status by testing every 3- 6 months


3) MP can help young adult gay and bisexual living with HIV by providing their communities with tips and tools, such as phone aps, that help adhere to treatments. Such tips and tools can provide accurate and important information about medication adherence and other related information to increase HIV literacy. 

Click to enlarge
4) Additionally, MPs can help young men living with HIV find peer support to remind them to take their pills, accompany them to their healthcare providers, listen to their experiences as HIV-positive community members, and to be their allies for staying healthy.
DENIM | Mpowerment Washington DC
5) Some MPs have created groups for men living with HIV to come together to discuss issues important to them.  Some MPs may host these at the project space - or in members’ homes.

6) Project Spaces, one of MPs' Core Elements, also provide information on accessing comprehensive counseling or case management services to link young, HIV-positive men to care. 
7) Informal outreach, another one of the MP’s core elements, can be used to help encourage HIV positive members to access treatment and take their meds. Risk reduction messages are aimed at both positive and negative men.
8) Assign an agency or clinic Case Manager to a project to act as a liaison. The coordinator could then walk men who are interested in care over to someone the know personally. 

The Mu Crew | Somos OC and Mpowerment YVR

9) Develop strong relationships with local clinics. Develop relationships with their linkage and/or care staff so you can offer personalized referrals - “Actually my really good friend ‘Bob’ - knows all about HIV meds and how to get financial aid".  Have strong relationships at your fingertips to refer young men to services.

10) Materials can be created and distributed at venues where young gay and bisexual men gather, and posted on social media that address:

  • That HIV medications are really effective these days, so much so that no young man should be passing away from HIV anymore. They are much less toxic and much easier to use. 
  • That the medications do not affect how you look. You cannot tell by looking at someone that they are on medications.
  • That friends can support friends who are living with HIV by reminding them to keep their doctor's appointments and by taking their medications regularly. 
We would like to hear your feedback about these suggestions and any examples of how you are putting these and other ideas into action. 

Evolution Project | Mpowerment Atlanta GA
Making HIV prevention a priority among Gay and Bisexual men.

Read more about the Mpowerment Project in the manual.   The manual is a free download when you register at Mpowerment.org. Click here for a quick look at the essential Core Elements of the Mpowerment Project. 




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Mpowerment Project at USCA San Diego 2014

USCA 2014 | San Diego CA
Yes yes yes we are attending the United States Conference on AIDS in San Diego October 2 through October 5, 2014. We look forward to meeting you! Below find information on our booth, Reunion / Affinity Session as well as workshops, panels and sessions hosted by coordinators of Mpowerment Projects across the country.

During the Conference visit us at Booth 805 - representing the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) at the University California San Francisco (UCSF).

Check out more USCA goodness here:  USCA 2014  
Follow the National Minority AIDS Council 


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Mpowerment Reunion and Affinity Session.

What: The Mpowerment Project Reunion and Affinity Session.  This year's theme is Star Wars - A New Hope!

Catch up with everyone involved in building communities across the country and the globe. Ever miss your fellow Mpowerment (MP) trainees and wish you could get together again? Interested in meeting and swapping Project information with other Mpowerment Projects? Do you like Star Wars? Well then, we've got you covered. Come play with us.

When: Friday October 3, 2014 6:15pm 

Where: Room 305, Level 3 - Hilton San Diego Bay-front.

Who: Everyone is welcome...funders, CDC staff, all USCA attendees, supervisors, coordinators and participants. Anyone interested in HIV prevention for and by Gay and Bisexual men.

Follow for news, updates and and other reunion news: Facebook event link 

Cut n' Paste promo tweet:  
JOIN US! #Mpowerment Reunion/Affinity Friday 10/3 Room 305 Level 3 | 6:15pm #USCA2014 Hosted by: @SOMOSFL @BRIDGEMEN_SF @VegasMPower





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Mpowerment is at booth 805. 

805 is the UC Regents at the University California San Francisco, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies. We are sharing the booth with the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health. Drop by and say hello to John and Robert. 

Follow our USCA adventures on twitter:  @mpCAPS 

Cut n' Paste promo tweet:  
Visit ‪#‎Mpowerment‬ at Booth 805 - Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) UCSF @UCSFCAPS | ‪#‎USCA2014‬ ‪#‎HIV‬ Prevention for and by Gay/Bi men

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SESSIONS OF NOTE.  Be sure to attend these sessions hosted by Mpowerment Project researchers and coordinators.
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Panel "The Evidence-based Behavioral Interventions that support Prevention with Positive (PwP) Persons"

Friday, October 3 2014 |  8:30-11:30 a.m. 
Location: TBD

From Susan: "Hi everyone, I hope those of you going to the USCA come and see the panel I'm on! My presentation on the panel will be about how we're adapting Mpowerment to address the needs of HIV+ guys, while still addressing HIV prevention with HIV-negative men.
The panel is on Friday morning, 8:30-11:30. I would LOVE to see you!
We'll be talking about research that we've been doing - and our work with our fabulous Mpowerment National Advisory Board - to come up with adaptations.
And then - I'd love to hear your questions & concerns. Please come!"

This panel will feature Susan Kegeles Ph D, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) and Mpowerment Project researcher.


Susan and friends at a Mpowerment training in Guatemala September 2014.
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Benjamin coordinator of SOMOS | Mpowerment FL

Session: "Reaching Beyond Your Doors: Maximizing Social Media Outcomes."

Friday October 3 2014 | 2:30 p.m. - 400 p.m.

Location: TBA

Session: "Reaching Beyond Your Doors: Maximizing Social Media Outcomes."

Session presented by Benjamin and Mikael coordinator and volunteer of SOMOS Mpowerment Wilton Manors FL

SOMOS is a Project of Latinos Salud Wilton Manors FL


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Obed and Jose, coordinators of SOMOS | Mpowerment FL
Session: "Young Latino and Gay Now What? Stories and Strategies Addressing the Barriers and Risk Factors that Affect Access to Care and Prevention Services."


Saturday, October 4 2014 | 2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m
Location: 307, Level 3

From Jose: "This is also a roundtable, so the conversation could theoretically drift away from the topic, but Obed and I will do our best to keep the conversation on point. This is a great topic to promote along with the Mpowerment Project, because MP is a great tool to engage the young guys and gives informal time to talk with them about their needs."

Session and roundtable presented by Obed and Jose coordinators of SOMOS Mpowerment Wilton Manors FL

Cut n' Paste promo tweet:  
JOIN US Latino Gay/Bi men. Stories addressing HIV Prevention 10/ 4 Sat 2:30pm Room 307, Level 3 #USCA2014 via @SOMOSFL #Mpowerment

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Gustavo coordinator of Gen L | Mpowerment IL
Roundtable: "Biomedical HIV Prevention: Lessons Learned from Implementing PrEP, HIV Vaccines, and Rectal Microbicides Education with Young Latino Men who Have Sex With Men."

Saturday, October 4, 2014 |  4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Location: 501A, Level 5

Session:
Roundtable presented by Gustavo Varela-Ninja coordinator of Generation L Mpowerment Chicago IL
Cut n' Paste promo tweet:  
TODAY10/4 Bio/Behavioral HIV Prevention / PrEP for young Latino Gay/Bi men 4:30pm Room 501A, Level 5 #USCA2014 via @Generati0nL #Mpowerment

Generation L | Mpowerment Chicago IL

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New release:  9 ways the Mpowerment Project can address the HIV Continuum of Care (coming very very soon).

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Check out more USCA goodness here:  USCA 2014  
Follow the National Minority AIDS Council 




Thursday, September 11, 2014

Faith and spirituality exercise

via United Black Element (U-BE) Adaptation of the Mpowerment Project to Young Black MSM.  There are more exercises in the adaptation manual. It is a free download when you register at www.mpowerment.org

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Setting up the space and setting the tone for exercises.

Note: We recommend conducting this brief opening activity at the beginning of each session of activities below. 

Objective
  • To get participants involved right away by participating in setting the atmosphere. 
  • Having the statements (see list below) on separate signs and posted throughout the room is meant to more easily catch the attention of the participants, who might otherwise easily disregard a list of items all on one sign.
Materials
  • Signs
  • Something to easily attach the signs to the walls so they can be removed later and re-used.
Ask participants to post the individual signs on the walls around the room

Instructions for the facilitators

Convene the participants back to the center of the room and ask them to read the signs silently and take in their meaning 

Statements to be posted on individual signs


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The Evolution Project | Mpowerment Atlanta GA

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The following activity focuses on personal faith and spirituality in order to:
  • Develop an awareness of each other’s understanding and experience of spirituality, faith, and religious beliefs.
  • Understand the impact of religious beliefs/institutions/communities on the lives of individual participants and their peers.
  • Explore what type of support one can expect from religious beliefs/institutions and/or spirituality. 
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Figure 5.1 – One Word 
Pg. 75 (Estimated time 45-1 hour)

Objective

Religious beliefs and the influence of churches are controversial, and yet people may embrace them despite the contradictions they pose, especially for African American gay men. By discussing terms associated with religious beliefs drawn at random, participants can choose to remain private about their beliefs. One does not necessarily have to reveal that he is religious if he doesn’t want to (or vice versa). Additionally, since the terms were all put forward by other participants, it helps each person explore what religious experiences might mean for other participants. A group discussion at the end of the exercise will allow for an exchange of ideas about the role of churches and/or spirituality in their lives, their family and communities. This can lead to a discussion about safer sex, and men’s feelings about themselves.

Materials

• A stack of blank cards
• Pencils or pens
• A box or bag for collecting and keeping the cards in

Instructions for the facilitators
  1. Have each participant write down on a card one word that describes religious faith and/or spirituality for him.
  2. Put all the cards in the bag/box and mix them up.
  3. Have each participant draw a card.
  4. Each person then discusses why he thinks the word on the card is associated with religious beliefs or spirituality.
  5. Ask if the person who wrote this word wants to say anything about it?

Questions for facilitating the discussion
  • What is it like to be out as a gay man to one’s church community?
  • How connected do you feel to the church? Why?
  • Is there a difference in the feelings of connection/alienation you have depending on what type of church you belong to?
  • Can you have religious beliefs without belonging to a church?
  • Can you be spiritual and have no religious beliefs?
  • How do churches affect the lives of young men who do not belong to a church?
  • How do beliefs about sin affect your behavior?
  • How do your religious beliefs affect your life and behavior?
  • Do churches have a role to play in preventing HIV infections?
  • Do your religious beliefs celebrate or conflict with your sexuality?

What the facilitators should say at the conclusion of the activity

Spirituality is an important part of so many of our lives that it’s important to talk about and share and remember to be respectful Remember that many people don’t have spiritual beliefs and that’s okay too. It isn’t a good idea to attack someone’s spiritual beliefs or non-beliefs. 


Haven Mpowerment Springfield MO meets Greater Columbus Mpowerment Center OH


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via United Black Element (U-BE) Adaptation of the Mpowerment Project to Young Black MSM.  There are more exercises in the adaptation manual. It is a free download when you register at www.mpowerment.org


Interfaith Panel | U-BE Mpowerment Dallas TX 







Wednesday, September 3, 2014

8 ways to provide Agency Leadership for the Mpowerment Project

via Module 3 Implementing Agency. Module 3 is a free download when you register at mpowerment.org 

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The following guidelines can help agencies provide effective leadership for the Mpowerment Project.

RELATED:  What is the Mpowerment Project? Download Module 1: Mpowerment Overview.

1) Make HIV prevention among a diverse population of young bisexual and gay men a priority. Articulate this goal in the agency’s annual plans and long-range planning, and formulate plans for implementing the Mpowerment Project in advance.
The Mu Crew | Mpowerment Dayton OH

2) Commit to finding the right people for the Mpowerment Project Coordinator positions. The Coordinators are critical to the success of the Project.

3) Acknowledge the importance of the Core Group by creating a role for it in the agency’s decision-making processes. There are a number of ways to ensure this occurs. For example, Core Group members could be invited to meet with the agency’s board or directors, or could participate on a board subcommittee. At a minimum, the Project Supervisor could ensure that reports from the Core Group are heard at the highest level of decision-making within the agency. 

4) Shortly after hiring Project Coordinators, agencies should have them conduct an assessment to understand and be up-to-date about the young men’s scene and the diversity within the local young gay/ bisexual male community in order to gain perspectives from diverse young gay/bisexual men about issues relevant to the intervention. Detailed information on conducting a community assessment is provided in Module 2.*

5) Discuss implementation of the Mpowerment Project with other CBO staff. The Mpowerment Project website has some materials that may be helpful to share with staff so they understand the goals and objectives of the new program. Elicit input from the rest of the CBO staff about how the agency’s various programs can work collaboratively with the Mpowerment Project, building on the agency’s strengths and experiences.


RELATED16 Steps for starting the #Mpowerment Project in your community.


Mpowerment Coordinators at USCA 2013
6) Ensure that staff who have been hired to run and supervise the Mpowerment Project obtain adequate training in how to implement the program, and thoroughly review materials such as the training manual*. Maintain good communication lines with Project staff so they feel comfortable in requesting assistance when they need it, both from agency staff and from the Mpowerment Project’s technical assistance team.  

We host MP trainings throughout the year in different cities. Interested in attending our next MP training? Contact Ben Zovod at Benjamin.Zovod@ucsf.edu or call 415.476.6428.

RELATEDJoin us. Attend the Mpowerment Project training. 

7) Where needed, introduce new evaluation methods for staff to use in analyzing Project performance. This may entail training staff and demonstrating how to apply information gathered during the community assessment. For example, if your community assessment showed that many different groups of young gay/bisexual men exist in your community, yet only one or two groups routinely show up at Project sponsored Social Outreach Events, programmatic changes are likely needed to attract new groups of men to the Project. This requires evaluating every Social Outreach Event for the diversity of men who attend it.

RELATED7 issues that will facilitate or impede MP implementation

8) Continually investigate funding possibilities and submit grant applications. It is the responsibility of the agency to generate funding for the Project. (The young gay/bisexual men who serve as volunteers in the Project are unlikely to have much expertise in this area.) 





Mpowerment National Advisory Board (NAB) 2009

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*All Mpowerment Modules are accessible as free pdf downloads when you register at mpowerment.org